Laing O’Rourke exits Australia to focus on the UK and Europe


British contractor Laing O’Rourke has announced that it will sell its "very successful" Australian subsidiary after a strategic review prompted approaches from buyers interested in acquiring parts of it.

The Australian "hub", which reported a post-tax profit of US$100m in the 12 months to March 2015, could fetch more than $700m, according to local media.

In a press release announcing the sale, Laing O’Rourke described its Australian subsidiary as "strongly positioned in the emerging infrastructure market with blue-chip clients, a solid pipeline, a talented leadership team and great people".

Laing O’Rourke is the third largest UK builder by turnover. Last year it suffered an $81m post-tax loss after running into problems on three UK construction projects that were being built using its offsite Design for Manufacture and Assembly approach.

Despite this, the company sees a bright future in European and UK construction. Ray O’Rourke, its chairman and group chief executive, said: "A key conclusion of the review was that the European business and the UK in particular was very well placed for strong growth potential, which will be further fuelled by the UK government’s renewed focus on infrastructure and new housing."

Laing O’Rourke plans to invest more in the UK, "especially in areas that promote our competitiveness and the attractiveness of our offering to clients". The group and the European business will also focus on "streamlining its organisation and aligning its structures, processes and overheads".

Despite last year’s losses, it plans to continue its investments in offsite building and "advanced digital engineering".

Image: Laing O’Rourke’s group executive chairman, Ray O’Rourke (Laing O’Rourke). All figures in US dollars.

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